Review by Matthew Nielsen
The original Moby Dick by Herman Melville is, in many ways, a very large book about a very long voyage. It is well known as a tale of grudges and the price of vengeance; the story of the Peequaad whaling ship, their intense captain Ahab, and the mysterious white whale Moby Dick, all seen through the eyes of our main character Ishmael. The cartoonist Chabouté has created a very loyal adaptation of this journey, abridging it where necessary but keeping the majority of the key moments intact. Instead of the full body, we are left with the skeleton and main organs of the story, which still provide a satisfying retelling. As with any adaptation, it is very different from reading the original book. It certainly would be very difficult to match the feeling of that long and contemplative tome that examines many things personal, spiritual, biological, and universal.
What stands out the most in Chabouté’s adaptation is the artwork: harsh black and white portrayals of ropes and sail, man and boat, birds and beasts. On top of that, the character design — especially the faces — are what I find most appealing. The artist is not afraid to focus on a scene by using numerous panels. Where many other artists might only give a panel or two, Chabouté can spend several pages on the exact same event. This allows for a great pacing, and even though the graphic novel cannot live up to the original novel’s great length in it’s entirety, these extended sequences of pure silence and scenery allow for a patient reader to experience at least part of that original timing.
All in all, I strongly recommend Chabouté’s adaptation of Moby Dick to both those who have read the original book and those who have yet to read it. I feel it would satisfy both parties.